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Posted by Rick Civelli | 07.19.2008 | Teen Camps

2008 Surf & Board Building Camp



How many surfers have ever even stepped foot in a surfboard factory?  Not Many! Now, how many surfers can honestly say they have shaped their own surfboards?  Even fewer!  Well, five teen campers got to spend a week in a surfboard factory, shaping their own personal dream board and I was fortunate enough to be their counselor.  I don’t know who was more excited, myself or the campers.

Just as if on cue, a fresh, chest high groundswell showed up Thursday morning just hours before I got to meet the campers. I began to realize that this was going to be an unbelievable week of surf and fun.  Since four of the five campers were staying from the previous week of Surf Camp, and the fifth had been to several of our camps before, this swell was just what we were all hoping for.  After a quick orientation we all hopped in the van for an evening surf session down at Crystal Pier.  Just two hours into the camp and we were trading off chest high glassy waves on the north side of the pier.  I had to literally drag the campers out of the water, promising them that tomorrow morning’s conditions were going to be even better.

After rinsing off, we cruised up to Buffalo Wild Wings, where against my warnings, Carson thought he could handle their spicy wings.  We spent the rest of dinner laughing at him as he tried to sooth his lips with ice cubes and napkins.  In between laughing fits I explained to the campers that we would have to dawn patrol bright and early to get in the water before the wind picked up.  They all looked at Jarrett, the Junior Instructor working the camp with me, and I as if we were crazy when we suggested breakfast at 6am and in the water by 6:30.  So you want to be a surfer? I reminded them.

With the forecast holding true, we spent the first 4 hours of our day splitting super fun A-frames at the north end of Wrightsville Beach with no one around.  When we could no longer move our arms it was time to ride up to the SOD surfboard factory and meet the guys that were going to make the campers dream boards come to life.  After Sean (founder/shaper of SOD surfboards) gave the campers a tour of the factory, he used his state of the art computer program to design a board that was specific to each camper’s height, weight and surfing ability.  I watched in amazement as each camper got his turn at the computer, then watched as his blank came out of the machine 80 percent complete.  After all five boards were entered into the computer, it was time to head up to my all time favorite restaurant, Flaming Amy’s.

Board Building Group Shot

After getting up at 6am to score epic surf, everyone hit the sack early, amped to do it all over again the next day.  Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday seemed like a dream.  We would wake up early, surf all morning, shape all afternoon and wind down over delicious dinners.  Not once did the surf drop under stomach high, or the wind come up harder than five knots.

Wednesday morning, Jarrett and I woke the campers up even earlier than usual to charge up to Topsail where the light north wind would be offshore.  With the campers still zonked out in the back, Jarrett and I hopped out of the van just south of the pier to check the surf.  Who else had the same idea to surf Topsail that particular morning?  Rick Civelli, founder of Surf Camp.  I guess great minds think alike….or let me rephrase that, great surf forecasters think alike.  After scoring reeling lefts under a beautiful sunrise, it was time to put the final touches on the campers boards up at the SOD Factory.  I watched in jealousy as Alex, John, Ryan, Carson and Zach got to paint their very own designs on their brand new boards.

Thursday, the campers sprung out of bed as if it was Christmas morning.  As promised, Sean put in some late hours at the factory putting in fins and leash plugs so that the campers could take their boards for a test spin before heading home Thursday.  One of the most rewarding moments of the entire week, for me at least, was seeing the campers eyes light up as they saw their finished boards hanging on the racks along with all of the other finished boards.  Under strict supervision from the campers, I loaded their precious cargo into the van, and we went down to Wrightsville Beach for a final surf session together.  As we paddled out for the last time, I joked with the campers that I am the only one not riding a shiny, brand new custom board.  After a million “just one more wave,” please from the campers, we headed back to the dorms where I watched as each camper proudly showed off his new board to their parents.  “Wow, what a week” is all Jarrett and I kept saying to each other.  Tons of waves, laughs and a once a lifetime experience that I, nor any of the campers will ever forget.